With the departure of Eron Harris and the potential of Juwan Staten declaring for the NBA Draft, West Virginia has at least one gap to fill in next year's roster. The Mountaineers coaching staff wasn't standing idly by waiting to see how things turned out, however, as they kept in touch with a handful of potential targets for next years team.
One such player is Brooklyn native Tarik Phillip (6-3, 180 lbs.), who made an immediate splash at Independence CC in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.
Despite playing in just 18 games this season, Phillip earned the conference's player of the year in the Eastern Division, and was also the league's freshman of the year and an all-region selection while helping Independence to the division title. He averaged 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game, while also earning a reputation as an outstanding defender.
Phillip could play either the point or the two guard position in college, and it's his versatility that stands out. From scoring to rebounding to playmaking to defense, he displays talent in many different phases of the game while earning high marks for his knowledge of the right way to play. He does not follow in the mold of some jucos who are only out to pile up numbers, but shows a feel for the game and a knowledge of how to get the most out of his abilities given the situation.
Phillip also has a reputation as a tough competitor, which shows in his defensive ability and his adaptation to Independence. Despite his late start, he quickly became the best guard in the conference.
West Virginia is moving up its recruiting pace in evaluation and with a visit, and if all goes well an offer could follow soon. Phillip's recruitment has been a bit slow, given his level of achievement this year, but with transfer season in full swing, he's likely to attract a few more offers if he doesn't make a quick decision.
Phillip committed to South Carolina out of prep school, but did not enroll after falling short of initial eligibility requirements. He will have three years in which to complete his final three seasons of college eligibility, and he is expected to graduate from Independence and be able to enroll at a Division I school this fall.